Saudi: Richard Gere Visits Migrants Stuck in Mediterranean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Richard Gere Visits Migrants Stuck in Mediterranean

Friday, 9 August, 2019 – 11:45
Actor Richard Gere, right, talks with migrants aboard the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat as it cruises in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Valerio Nicolosi)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Actor Richard Gere visited on Friday rescued migrants on board a humanitarian ship that has been stuck in the Mediterranean Sea for over a week.

The Hollywood star took food and supplies by boat to 121 people aboard the ship of Barcelona-based Open Arms charity.

The ship has been floating in international waters near the Italian island of Lampedusa after being blocked from entering ports in Italy and Malta.

The 69-year-old actor carried fruit boxes on board and spoke to several migrants who had fled war-torn Libya on un-seaworthy smuggling boats before being rescued.

Gere urged the world to “please support us here on Open Arms and help these people, our brothers and sisters.”

Other European countries have yet to respond to the aid group’s request for a solution to the impasse over the rescue ship.

The European Commission should help the migrants, European Parliament speaker David Sassoli said in a letter on Thursday to the EU executive’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Charity rescue boats have largely disappeared from the Mediterranean over the last year as governments have tightened controls and those that have rescued migrants have faced lengthy standoffs trying to disembark them.

Trump administration’s near-total asylum ban blocked by judge

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Trump administration’s near-total asylum ban blocked by judge

Delivering a painful defeat to the Trump administration’s most sweeping effort to single-handedly overhaul the asylum system without Congress, a federal judge on Wednesday blocked a rule that made most migrants from Central America and other countries ineligible for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Judge Jon Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California agreed to issue a temporary injunction halting the policy while he reviews the merits of a legal challenge spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

In his order, Tigar seemed to agree with the concerns raised by the plaintiffs that policy could result in the U.S. government sending asylum seekers back to dangerous circumstances just because they did not seek protection in countries like Mexico. The judge noted Mexico does not have as robust of an asylum system as the U.S. to guarantee people safe haven.

“An injunction would vindicate the public’s interest — which our existing immigration laws clearly articulate — in ensuring that we do not deliver aliens into the hands of their persecutors,” Tigar wrote in his 45-page order.

Central American asylum seekers turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol after illegally crossing the Rio Grande in Los Ebanos
Central American asylum seekers who illegally crossed the Rio Grande nearby wait to be transported to a processing facility after turning themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol in Los Ebanos, Texas, U.S., June 28, 2019.LOREN ELLIOTT / REUTERS

Earlier on Wednesday, a federal judge in Washington declined to block the policy as requested by plaintiffs in a second court challenge to the controversial policy.

The rule facing this court challenge restricts access to the U.S. asylum system for non-Mexican migrants who traveled through Mexico and other countries to reach the southwestern border, but did not seek protection in those nations. Although designed to stem the flow of Central American migrants journeying north, the regulation also affected people from other parts of the world trying to reach the U.S. through Mexico — including Cubans, Venezuelans, Brazilians and central Africans, who have traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in higher numbers this year.

The joint regulation represented a drastic change in the asylum system for migrants seeking refuge at the southern border. Before the rule, migrants who crossed into the U.S. illegally were allowed to claim asylum after being apprehended by Border Patrol officers. Most asylum-seeking families were typically released from immigration custody after less than 20 days in detention and allowed to remain in the U.S. while their cases were adjudicated.

Late last year, Tigar blocked a similar effort by the administration to prohibit migrants who cross the border illegally from being able to seek asylum.

Melissa Crow, a senior supervising attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, one of the groups that joined the ACLU in the San Francisco court challenge to the new rule, praised Tigar’s ruling on Wednesday.

“Today’s ruling is an important victory for incredibly vulnerable individuals and families from besieged Central American countries seeking refuge in our country,” Crow said in a statement. “We will continue to fight this draconian policy as well as the myriad of others through which the Trump administration continues to wage war on asylum-seekers and our nation’s asylum system.”

Soon after the regulation took effect last week, two lawsuits — including the one spearheaded by the ACLU — were filed to block the policy. The plaintiffs argued that the regulation was devised contrary to federal rule-making procedures and violated the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which allows most who set foot on American soil to seek asylum if they fear persecution in their homeland.

The complaint filed by the ACLU and other groups in San Francisco said the new rule violated that core provision in U.S. law. The plaintiffs also noted that Congress, under the the INA, stipulated that the government could deport asylum seekers to a third country to seek safe haven only if the U.S. and said nation were part of a bilateral or multilateral agreement.

“The Rule is a part of an unlawful effort to significantly undermine, if not virtually repeal, the U.S. asylum system at the southern border, and cruelly closes our doors to refugees fleeing persecution, forcing them to return to harm,” the petition read.

In a rare public rebuke of domestic U.S. policy, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees — which receives U.S. funds — denounced the regulation as a “severe” effort that was not “in line” with international obligations for refugees.

“It will put vulnerable families at risk,” High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said earlier in the week, noting that many migrants do find “effective international protection” in the countries they travel through to get to the U.S.-Mexico border. “It will undermine efforts by countries across the region to devise the coherent, collective responses that are needed.”

However, administration officials, who have often railed against “loopholes” in the U.S. asylum system, have strongly defended the rule, casting it as a much-needed move for the government to deal with the months-long surge of Central America families heading toward the southern border.

Attorney General William Barr — who oversees the country’s immigration courts — said the rule was also designed to crack down on “forum shopping by economic migrants,” referring to a term used by immigration hardliners to describe the decision-making that they believe migrants engage in. They accuse migrants of preferring to seek asylum in the U.S., rather than in the countries along their journey that might be able to offer them safe haven.

Turkey: 6,000 Unregistered Migrants Arrested in Istanbul

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

6,000 Unregistered Migrants Arrested in Istanbul

Wednesday, 24 July, 2019 – 09:45
FILE PHOTO: Migrants in a dinghy paddle their way on the Mediterranean Sea to attempt crossing to the Greek island of Kos, as a Turkish Coast Guard ship patrols off the shores off Bodrum, Turkey, September 19, 2015. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
A crackdown on unregistered migrants in Istanbul has seen 6,000 arrests, including Afghans and Syrians, in the past two weeks, Turkey’s interior minister said Wednesday.

“We have been carrying out an operation since July 12… We have caught 6,122 people in Istanbul, including 2,600 Afghans,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told TV station NTV.

He said Syrians were part of the group, without giving numbers.

There has been concern in recent days over reports that hundreds of Syrian refugees have been sent back to Syria, after being forced to sign consent forms in Turkish that they do not understand.

Soylu denied the claims.

“When we catch Syrians who are not registered, we send them to refugee camps,” he said, citing a camp in the Turkish border province of Hatay.

However, Agence France Presse quoted him as saying that some Syrians were choosing to go back to their home country “voluntarily” to areas where fighting has abated.

Turkey has more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees — the highest number in the world.

Most have “temporary protection” permits but these restrict them to the province in which they were registered. The current crackdown is aimed at those who live in Istanbul without a permit to stay in the city.

A coalition of Syrian NGOs said Monday that more than 600 Syrians — mostly with protection permits issued in other provinces — were arrested in Istanbul last week and deported back to Syria, rather than to their assigned provinces.

A survey published this month by Kadir Has University in Istanbul showed growing hostility towards Syrians, rising from 54.5 percent of respondents in 2017 to 67.7 percent in 2019.

Trump’s Nationwide Immigration Raids Fail to Materialize

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

 

Trump’s Nationwide Immigration Raids Fail to Materialize

Hundreds of people march in New York in opposition to the Trump administration’s plans to continue with raids to catch immigrants in the country illegally in Queens on Sunday.

Julius Constantine Motal/AP

President Trump’s threatened roundup of undocumented immigrant families this weekend that sent migrants in many communities on edge showed few signs of materializing on Sunday, the second time rumors of a large-scale immigration enforcement operation failed to come to fruition.

Instead, in the cities where rumors of mass raids swirled, many immigrants stayed inside their homes, as jitters turned typically vibrant migrant markets and commercial corridors eerily quiet.

Immigrant advocates across the country, meanwhile, took to the streets to demonstrate in protest of the promised roundup.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not confirm any arrests, nor would immigrant rights activists.

“The ACLU has not heard reports of any raids today,” Ruthie Epstein, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy director for immigration policy, told NPR.

Before Sunday, there were weekend reports of attempted arrests by ICE in New YorkNew Jersey and Chicago, where The New York Times reported that a mother and her daughters were apprehended but the family was immediately released. But those actions appeared to be part of routine enforcement activity, not connected to a massive raid operation.

Still, fears of ICE catching migrants by surprise sent many into hiding on Sunday.

In Miami, one of the cities anticipating the crackdown on immigrants, a hush fell over a market usually buzzing with activity among immigrant merchants and shoppers.

“People are clearly hiding. If you look around, it’s the people who are working are basically the only people here. But the majority of our clients are immigrants. Some with papers, others with no papers, but they are all scared,” Yohanna Gomez, a Honduran immigrant who runs a Central American stall at the market, told WLRN.

A similar scene played out in in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, typically bustling with immigrants from Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. But on Sunday, the streets were noticeably calmer and vendors seemed to have taken the day off due to the threatened raids.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Saturday that ICE had already attempted to make arrests in the city, but they were not successful.

Activists have been spreading the word to migrants to not open their doors if an immigration agents knocks, since they cannot use force to enter a residence.

In Chicago, another city where federal immigrants officials were expecting to conduct raids, streets in immigrant communities were scarcer than on a normal Sunday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the residents on the north side of Chicago before the raids were supposed to start.

“This is a community that has a diversity of people coming from all over the world,” she said. “There’s been a lot of rumors,” Lightfoot said. “Dangling this sword over peoples’ head is causing great harm and trauma to entire households, entire communities.”

The weekend operation was reportedly supposed to focus on immigrant families who have been sent final orders of removal after failing to appear in court. And top administration officials have argued that many of the estimated 2,000 migrants who fit this category have ignored requests to turn themselves in. President Trump originally set the nationwide raids for June before delaying the planned mass arrests in order to give Congress more time to hammer out changes to federal asylum law.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing four immigration legal aid nonprofit groups, sued to blocks the raids on Thursday, arguing that while the Trump administration claims the migrants have been given an opportunity to appear in court, many never received the paperwork because of letters being sent to wrong addresses, or when they did arrive, the requests to appear did not contain specific dates and times.

And so, the lawsuit claimed, the families that were expected to be targeted have never received proper notice of removal and did not have their day in court before an immigration judge.

“Unless this Court enforces that requirement, thousands of individuals could be deported without ever receiving a fair opportunity to appear before a judge, as required by the Due Process Clause and the immigration laws,” wrote lawyer Melinda LeMoine in the suit, which is pending a judge’s ruling.

WNYC’s Beth Fertig contributed to this report.

UN Urges More Mediterranean Rescue Efforts after Aquarius Pullout

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

UN Urges More Mediterranean Rescue Efforts after Aquarius Pullout

Saturday, 8 December, 2018 – 10:00
FILE PHOTO: Migrants disembark from the MV Aquarius, a search and rescue ship run in partnership between SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres, after it arrived in Augusta on the island of Sicily, Italy, January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello/File Photo
Geneva – Asharq Al-Awsat
French NGO Medecins sans Frontieres has warned that the end of operations of the last refugee rescue ship working in the Mediterranean Sea, Aquarius, would mean more migrants would die, as the UN expressed concern over the decision to retire the vessel.

“This is a somber day,” Nelke Mander, Medecins sans Frontieres’s general director, said in a statement Thursday. “The end of our operations onboard the Aquarius will mean more death in the sea, deaths that are avoidable and without witnesses.”

The decision to moor the Aquarius is the result of a “constant denigration, smearing and obstruction campaign led” against Medecins sans Frontieres and SOS MEDITERRANEAN by the Italian government and supported by other European countries, the NGO said.

The Aquarius was recently accused of trafficking waste and criminal activities — accusations that are “ludicrous”, Reuters quoted Medecins sans Frontieres as saying.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly closed Italian ports to the Aquarius, forcing it to sail for days with dozens of rescued migrants aboard to find a port in other countries.

Salvini has refused to take more migrants from the Aquarius, demanding other European Union countries take a share of migrants. He also said the rescue ships like Aquarius encouraged people to take the sea to cross towards Europe.

SOS MEDITERRANEAN director of operations Frederic Penard said “giving up the Aquarius has been an extremely difficult decision” but added that the group was “actively exploring options for a new boat”.

“Search and rescue capacity needs to be reinforced rather than diminished,” UN refugee agency spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo told reporters in Geneva.

She stressed the need to leave “space for NGOs to contribute in a coordinated manner to these efforts”.

“Saving lives is our primary concern,” AFP quoted her as saying.

Aquarius has helped almost 30,000 migrants at sea who have attempted the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

The Latest News From Zagra Croatia Concerning Islamic Refugees

(This article is courtesy of the Zagra News Paper ‘The Telegraph: Croatia)

• Hundreds push through police lines in Croatia
• People trampling and falling on top of each other
• Dozens injured, say AP
• Croatia expects 20,000 people in two weeks
Croatia said it received more than 8,900 in 24 hours

Latest

20.00

Conclusion: a summary of the day

  1. The latest events today in Croatia demonstrated how the Hungarian fence had consequences that would increase the suffering of migrants and refugees.
  2. Initially migrants waited for hours in the hot sun, as officials tried to corral migrants into a railway station to wait for trains to the Croatian capital, Zagreb, several hundred people broke through a police cordon and struck off on their own. Migrants scurried through cornfields and along roads, holding children and carrying their belongings.
  3. …but Hungary praised its fence and its impact of limiting the number entering the country. Janos Lazar, chief of staff to Viktor Orban, the country’s Right-wing prime minister, said the “assertive, uncompromising defence of the border has visibly held back human trafficking”.
  4. More than 8,900 migrants and refugees entered Croatia in the last 48 hours and the country said it expected at least 20,000 in the next fortnight.
  5. The Croatian president asked the army “to be ready to protect national border”.
  6. Donald Tusk, the Polish president of the EU, said EU heads of government would hold a summit on the matter on Wednesday.
  7. Small groups of refugees crossed the Croatian-Hungarian border at Illocska but were expected to be “expelled”, according to a Hungarian civil organisation.
  8. Hungary’s foreign minister said the “state of crisis” declared earlier in the week in two counties had been extended to a pair of southern counties.
  9. Close to 1,000 migrants arrived on a train in a Croatian town near the border with Hungary. Police told them to sleep in an abandoned military base.

18.50

Hungarian state media confirmed that some migrants and refugees tried to cross into Hungary via Croatia. Police apparently detained dozens of migrants near the village of Illocska, opposite the Croatian town of Beli Manastir.